Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari assured Iran's visiting Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar that Islamabad is seeking to expedite the executive operations of the construction of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and is eager to see the completion of the project as soon as possible.
Zardari's emphasis on the completion of the project is seen as a strong 'No' to Washington as the US has recently made it clear that it opposed Pakistan's decision to import gas from Iran, going so far as to threaten sanctions if Islamabad did not withdraw from the deal.
Despite the pressure, Pakistan, at the highest level, assured Tehran that it was committed to the gas pipeline project and other energy projects with Iran.
"Pakistan attaches high priority to early completion of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and 1,000 megawatt Taftan-Quetta power transmission line," President Zardari was quoted as telling the Iranian delegation on Wednesday.
Iran and Pakistan have envisaged a gas pipeline to meet the latter's growing energy needs, but the US has made it obvious that it opposes the project and has threatened Pakistan with sanctions.
"Promotion of intra-regional and inter-regional connectivity is key to socio-economic development of the people of this area, and Iran has a major role to play, along with Pakistan, due to our geo-strategic locations," Zardari said, according to his media office.
Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani both travelled to Iran over the last two months, while the Iranian foreign minister visited Islamabad recently.
During the Wednesday talks in Islamabad, Najjar was accompanied by Iranian Ambassador Mashallah Shakeri, Deputy Interior Minister Mahdi Mohammadifard, Deputy Minister and Head of the Crisis Management Organization Hassan Ghadami and head of the Red Crescent Society Faghih.
The Pakistani side included Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Secretary General to the President M Salman Faruqui, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, Interior Secretary KM Siddiq Akber and other senior officials.
Zardari said the two countries needed to further deepen cooperation in all areas, particularly trade, energy, security, communication and infrastructure.
He said resource shortages, inadequate trade, smuggling, drug trafficking, border management and security were among the few challenges that the two countries needed to address together.
The president said the agreement between the two countries to increase bilateral trade to $10 billion was "doable".